Updated: Apr 28, 2015 09:02 am Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -04:00)
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Tuesday, Apr 28, 2015

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Call of Duty: Black Ops III Dedicated Servers Confirmed

The pcdev Twitter account has a bunch of information from the Treyarch director of development on the PC edition of Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Along the way he expresses his dislike for FPS caps on PC, that the upcoming military shooter sequel will ship with an adjustable FOV slider, and that they will use "100% dedicated servers for all ranked matches," noting this is just like the prior Black Ops games, saying "This is how we do it." Thanks PCGamesN.

Battlefield Hardline Patched

EA's Battlelog announces the release of a new patch for Battlefield Hardline, updating the law enforcement shooter to version 1.02. According to the patch notes, this offers battlepacks, battlepacks, battlepacks, bug fixes, and a couch nerf. Here's word:


  • Bronze packs – changes made to the last slot drop to improve the chances of collectibles and vouchers rather than boosts.
  • Silver packs - made the first 3 slots like a Bronze pack, and removed any chances of getting standard drops and increased the chances of collectibles for the last slot.
  • Gold packs - made the first 4 slots as Silver pack, and removed any chances of getting standard items, drops advanced vouchers and greatly increased the chances of getting superior or distinguished items.
  • Shortcut Battlepacks added.
  • Added the Prima Guide's Gold Battlepack.

Continue here to read the full story.

Ship Ahoy - Broken Age

Publisher Nordic and developer Double Fine announces the release of Broken Age Act 2, marking the complete release of Broken Age, their crowd-funded adventure game. Here's a launch trailer and the announcement:

Adventure fans, rejoice! The saviour has returned and blesses you with his latest masterstroke: Broken Age – the "Double Fine Adventure", the cornerstone of the Kickstarter boom has finally been completed. After a long wait, adventure legend Tim Schafer delivers the second act of his fascinating adventure.

The story of the two protagonists Shay and Vella is now heading towards its brilliant finale. What once started out as an auspicious campaign on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and then found a legendary $3,336,371 and 87,142 supporters, has finally come to an end. Following his ingenious escapades with Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango, the doyen of the point-and-click adventure now delivers his latest masterpiece!

Broken Age is available now. The complete adventure belongs in absolutely every adventure collection on earth (preferably as a boxed version, of course). With the first act of this magnificent tale having already garnered top ratings, with the likes of IGN and Destructoid awarding it a brilliant score of 9.5/10, the developers are now putting in place the grand finale with the final act.

Continue here to read the full story.

Origin and AU Refunds

Last year Valve was forced to offer refunds in Australia following a legal case with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over consumer rights for digital purchases (thanks Darth Guybrush). Now ZDNet reports the ACCC is also bringing EA's Origin service in line with Australian consumer laws, though they do specify that this will be for "defective" games. Here's a bit:

After receiving complaints, the ACCC investigated the issue, and EA made a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC that for the next three years, the company will not have a "no refunds" policy, and won't prevent customers from obtaining refunds for games purchased through Origin.

The company has also said it will amend its terms and conditions to comply with Australian Consumer Law.

Any customer who bought a defective game on Origin after January 1, 2012, wishing to obtain a refund can now contact EA to have a claim assessed. EA will set up a complaints number, an email address, and a post office box for inquiries associated with the undertaking.

"Businesses such as EA selling digitally downloadable goods cannot avoid their responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law just because they are located outside of Australia," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

"It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that customers are not entitled to refunds under any circumstances. Where a product has a major failure, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their choice. Representations that this right has or can be excluded, restricted, or modified are false or misleading."

Just Cause 3 Gameplay Trailer

A new trailer offers a look at Just Cause 3, the upcoming open-world action sequel. And they are serious about calling this a "gameplay" trailer, saying: "This footage is all actual gameplay. It was captured in-game using cinematic camera angles. It contains no cut scenes. Nothing was staged or scripted." Here's more: "Wingsuit, Grapple Hook, Massive Explosions: The first Just Cause 3 Gameplay trailer takes you straight into the intense action. Watch Rico Rodriguez cause chaos to the regime of the ruthless dictator General Di Ravello, and stopping at nothing to liberate Medici, his home."

Ship Ahoy - WWE 2K15

2K announces the promised release of WWE 2K15, offering the first chance to get a hold of this wrassling simulation on the PC platform. The game is now available, and a free DLC pack is coming soon. The announcement is lengthy, going into great detail on the Windows edition, and here's part of that covering the game:

2K today announced the Company’s prominent WWE® video game franchise, WWE 2K, has made its Windows PC worldwide debut with the release of WWE® 2K15 via Steam. Available now for $49.99, WWE 2K15 for Windows PC mirrors the in-game content offered in WWE 2K15 for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, including a notable roster of WWE Superstars, Divas and Legends, the story-driven 2K Showcase and franchise-first MyCareer experience.

In addition to these features, WWE 2K15 provides consumers with a wealth of downloadable content, including playable characters, new moves and new story-driven content at no additional cost. This offering represents significant savings for consumers looking to experience WWE 2K on Windows PC for the first time. The free downloadable content is currently scheduled for release in spring 2015.

Steamship Ahoy - Verdun

Verdun is now officially available on Steam for Windows, Linux, and OS X after a successful run in Early Access, offering a multiplayer military shooter set in the bloody trenches of World War I. Here's a launch trailer and here's word:

The Battle has begun
Verdun has officially been released, surprising the players with a new sector of the Western front; Aisne! Verdun is the first multiplayer FPS set in a realistic First World War setting. The merciless trench warfare offers a unique battlefield experience, immersing you and your squad into intense offensive and defensive battles.

The new map Aisne represents a large sector of the Western front, which was held by the French for most of the war. It is noticeably different in setting, because the environment is as of yet unspoiled by the ravages of war with lots of greenery, something the game hasn’t covered yet.

To celebrate the years of hard work, Verdun has a special 10% release discount. Also, there are a number of celebration events that you can attend, amongst which the first ever official Verdun Tournament!

Continue here to read the full story.

Morning Patches

Morning Interviews

Morning Previews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

I passed a new threshold of geekiness over the weekend by tuning in to the Heroes of the Dorm for a virtual viewing party with a couple of the mutants to watch the online semifinals together. I have not been drawn in by eSports too much in the past, but since Heroes of the Storm is one of the game we're currently playing the most, we managed to get pretty caught up in this. The broadcast was interesting, though I would say it was not ready for prime time, as there were many issues, not the least of which was the poor job they did of adequately showing the on-screen action. They frequently scrolled past points of interest, had a maddening obsession with crowd reactions (so they'd pull out to show the audience on takedowns while other important action was going on), and for some reason did not keep the minimap visible (the only times they brought it up was to cover the entire screen). The funny part for me was recording the finals on real TV and forgetting that it could run long, just like a traditional sports event, but luckily I was able to find it online.

And the fact that it makes a supreme putz like Colin Cowherd bust out the snark about guys living in their parents' basements makes it that much better, because it leaves him trying to justify the idea that being a sports radio host makes you an athlete or something completely different from being a pasty nerd who watches other people play games (except that's *exactly* what he is). I hope ESPN makes him cover the next one to test his threat to quit/put a gun in his mouth.

Sporty Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Give Up 2.
RedWhite Slice.
SuperHOTline Miami.
Stories: Farmer ignores police order to dismantle "pornographic" hay bale art.
Science: Did NASA Just Accidentally Produce A Warp Bubble?
Audi samples diesel made directly from carbon dioxide.
Images: Unfortunate typo in preface of an 1830 book.
Media: Xbox - Did You Know Gaming? Feat. Rated S Games. Thanks nin.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Calls Out Dr.Oz Again.
"Wow", Understatement of the Century. Wait for it-

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Monday, Apr 27, 2015 Happy King's Day (Netherlands)

Steam Ending Paid Mods; Providing Refunds

The backlash to the recent addition of paid modifications to the Steam Workshop has caused Valve to backtrack from the plan (thanks Mashiki). A Steam Community Group Announcement from Valve's Alden Kroll states they are killing the program and offering refunds to those who paid for mods for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:

We're going to remove the payment feature from the Skyrim workshop. For anyone who spent money on a mod, we'll be refunding you the complete amount. We talked to the team at Bethesda and they agree.

We've done this because it's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing. We've been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they've been received well. It's obvious now that this case is different.

To help you understand why we thought this was a good idea, our main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid. We wanted more great mods becoming great products, like Dota, Counter-strike, DayZ, and Killing Floor, and we wanted that to happen organically for any mod maker who wanted to take a shot at it.

But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim's workshop. We understand our own game's communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there's a useful feature somewhere here.

Now that you've backed a dump truck of feedback onto our inboxes, we'll be chewing through that, but if you have any further thoughts let us know.

Kerbal Space Program Version 1.0 Launches

The Kerbal Space Program Blog announces the release of Kerbal Space Program version 1.0, marking the official launch of the launch simulation. The update is now available on the KSP Store, Steam, and GOG.com, and the complete changelog can be found on this page. Here's an overview:

This is a special one! After four years in development, Kerbal Space Program 1.0 is now officially released!

Kerbal Space Program 1.0 is what we envisioned when development of the game started four years ago: we set out to make a game in which the player is given ultimate control over the exploration of space: from designing their rockets to launching and flying them to their destinations, in a universe that was modelled to have be as realistic as possible while remaining fun to play in.

However, our 1.0 release is more than just a new version number. It’s also the biggest update to the game we’ve ever done, and contains many new and updated features, plus improvements to just about every game system, which we’re sure will appeal to both newcomers and seasoned veterans.

DiRT Rally Early Access

Codemasters is now offering the chance to get behind the wheel with DiRT Rally with the release of the off-road racing game on Steam Early Access. They show off the game in a new trailer, and dish the DiRT in this announcement:

Codemasters today invites gamers to join it on the road toward the future of the DiRT series with the release of DiRT Rally on Steam Early Access. Launching initially with 17 classic and current cars and 36 challenging stages spread across three very different real-world environments, the team will be adding regular free updates featuring more vehicles, locations and game modes as they build a new, exciting breed of focused and challenging off-road racing. Gamers can watch the first gameplay trailer now at http://www.dirtgame.com.

Globally renowned for delivering realistic, yet fun, driving games, Codemasters is once more bringing its talent and experience to the world of rallying. With DiRT Rally, the team wanted to take off-road racing to a new level of realism, so it tore up its previous pace notes and completely rebuilt the physical simulation and driving models to truly capture the feeling of each individual car as it hurtles along a variety of surfaces in different conditions.

Continue here to read the full story.

Bethesda on Paid Skyrim Mods

The Bethesda Blog has their side of the story regarding the launch of paid mods on Steam for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, an announcement that has spurred considerable unhappiness in many circles. Here's a bit:

We believe most mods should be free. But we also believe our community wants to reward the very best creators, and that they deserve to be rewarded. We believe the best should be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are. But again, we don’t think it’s right for us to decide who those creators are or what they create.

We also don’t think we should tell the developer what to charge. That is their decision, and it’s up to the players to decide if that is a good value. We’ve been down similar paths with our own work, and much of this gives us déjà vu from when we made the first DLC: Horse Armor. Horse Armor gave us a start into something new, and it led to us giving better and better value to our players with DLC like Shivering Isles, Point Lookout, Dragonborn and more. We hope modders will do the same.

Opening up a market like this is full of problems. They are all the same problems every software developer faces (support, theft, etc.), and the solutions are the same. Valve has done a great job addressing those, but there will be new ones, and we’re confident those will get solved over time also. If the system shows that it needs curation, we’ll consider it, but we believe that should be a last resort.

There are certainly other ways of supporting modders, through donations and other options. We are in favor of all of them. One doesn’t replace another, and we want the choice to be the community’s. Yet, in just one day, a popular mod developer made more on the Skyrim paid workshop then he made in all the years he asked for donations.

Star Citizen Passes $80M; Accepting Subscription Contributions

The Roberts Space Industries Stretch Goals page shows that Star Citizen has now surpassed the $80 million mark by a good margin, with a rush of funding spurred by a MISC Hull Series Sale. They also now kick off a new video series called 10 for the Artists Episode 1 that includes a reference to how players can now make regular contributions to this project via subscription. Word is: "Lance Powell and Elwin Bachiller answer your questions about Star Citizen in the inaugural episode of Ten for the Artists! Each show features 10 questions asked by subscribers, chosen from development for each show. Want your question considered? Learn more about subscriptions here." Continue here to read the full story.

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward Benchmark

SQUARE ENIX now offers a benchmark to allow users to gauge their systems' readiness to play FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward when the first expansion is released for the MMORPG on June 23rd. Word is: "The benchmark also features the ability to try out the impressive new DirectX® 11 graphics, and create characters, including the new playable race, the Au Ra." The benchmark can be found on this page, and they show off what to expect from this in a new trailer. Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

  • Blackguards Franchise Bundle on Steam. Save 75%.
  • Lords of Xulima on GOG.com. Save 40%.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Previews

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Safety Dance

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Broken Age: Act 2 Release Plans

A Kickstarter update from Double Fine announces backers should now be getting their copies of Broken Age: Act 2, saying this should be released to the public tomorrow. Here's word on how the second half of the adventure will roll out:

Be on the lookout for an email from Humble Bundle with special instructions for getting the game early on Steam. Then play Broken Age! Your old save game will work, but I personally recommend starting over from the beginning. Now, now, no grumbling. You don't HAVE to. I can't force you. YET. But you really should, and after all, it won't take you long since you know all the puzzles. :) There are just so many hints and story set ups that happen in Act 1 that you need to remember for Act 2 to make sense. Plus, achievements! Anyway, whatevs. You don't have to start over. That's just my recommendation. I'm like that waiter that tells you how to eat your food. No actual legal authority, but you know he's right about the ponzu sauce.

Sounds like a cliche, but it's a fact: This has been a long and crazy journey that we've all been on together. It's been a documentary and a phenomenon and a news item, but now it's just a game. And I really hope you like it because you helped to make it. And not just with your money. :)

Everybody else gets the game on Tuesday. It comes out that day on PC/Mac/Linux, and also PS4, VITA, OUYA, iPad, iPhone, and Android! So please tell all your friends! Feel free to be loud about it! We need to make sure the internet is filled with Broken Age buzz on Tuesday so everybody the world over knows that adventure games aren't dead! Well, I guess they heard that three years ago, but I think it's time they all hear it again.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III Announcement

Activision follows the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops III trailer with an official announcement of the military shooter sequel confirming the November 6th release date, beta testing plans, and other details from the trailer. Here's the deal:

Mark your calendars for the return of the most played series in Call of Duty® history, because Black Ops is back! Call of Duty®: Black Ops III will arrive Friday, November 6, to take fans on a journey to the dark, twisted and gritty world of Black Ops with a true next-generation experience that redefines Call of Duty. Published by Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI), and developed by award-winning developer Treyarch, Call of Duty: Black Ops III delivers a campaign that can be played as a full single player game or co-op online with up to four players, the deepest, most rewarding multiplayer ever offered in Call of Duty, and, a mind-blowing Call of Duty Zombies experience that, for the first time, features its own XP progression system. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is in development for Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft; PlayStation® 4 computer entertainment system; and PC.

Activision and Treyarch also announced for the first time on Call of Duty next gen — a multiplayer Beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Fans who pre-order the game now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or PC will get access to the Beta*, details for which will be announced at a later date.

“Nearly 100 million people have played Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, making it the most-played series in Call of Duty history. And those fans are about to get the best Black Ops game we’ve made yet with Call of Duty: Black Ops III,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO, Activision. “This is Treyarch’s first three-year development and, man, have they made the most of it; with a ton of innovation across all modes of play, and of course a mind-bending, wild ride of a story, Black Ops style. Our fans will get a taste for themselves with a Beta later this year. But for now, Black Ops is back.”

Continue here to read the full story.

ORION: Prelude Revisited

Trek Industries offers this trailer about ORION: Prelude, the dinosaur-themed first-person shooter they released as a commercial game in 2012 after originally planning it as a Half-Life 2 modification. This celebrates the release of their year-three update for the game, and they express pride in turning the project around, explaining that the release version of the game was "one of the worst games of all time" (they offer review quotes and a link to this postmortem to support this contention). This is not the first time they've thrown us off balance, after they announced they were "thrilled" to close Spiral Game Studios along the way. The newest version of the game includes two brand new Survival Co-Op maps, remastered weapon SFX, and a version 3.0 game update. They also announce they will offer a free week of access to the game on Steam beginning on May 4th (the third anniversary of its release) to allow the chance to see how they've improved their game. Continue here to read the full story.

U.K. Sales Charts

GfK Chart-Track is back with their weekly roundup of the bestselling games in the U.K. On their PC Top 30 for the week ending April 25th Grand Theft Auto V holds the top spot for another week while Dungeons 2 debuts at number 17 and Warlords of Draenor and Evolve jump back into the top 10. On the all-platforms chart GTA5 remains at number two as Mortal Kombat X continues to beat up all comers to remain at number one. Here's the summary of all the activity:

There’s no change in the Top 3 as Warner’s ‘Mortal Kombat X’ (-64%) takes a 2nd week at No1, Rockstar/Take 2 are No2 with ‘GTA V’ (-50%) and EA’s ‘Battlefield Hardline’ is No3 (-26%).

Sony’s ‘Minecraft Playstation Edition’ jumps 5 places to No4 thanks to a 172% spike in sales over last week on the PS4 version (+52% over 3 version), followed by EA’s ‘FIFA 15’ down 1 place to No5 (-40%). The only new release shows up as a re-entry at No18 on this Chart – Kalypso’s ‘Tropico 5’ launches on PS4 this week, so joining the Xbox 360 & PC versions launched in 2014. All versions are developed by Haemimont Games in Sofia, Bulgaria and the PS4 version debuts at No7 on the PS4 chart.

Batman: Arkham Knight Trailer

A new "All Who Follow You" trailer from Batman: Arkham Knight offers cinematics from the next installment in Rocksteady's superhero series. Here's word on all this reveals:

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment today released the newest video for Batman: Arkham Knight. In the Official Batman™: Arkham Knight Trailer – “All Who Follow You”, Batman turns to his closest allies to help him save Gotham City from the clutches of Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight’s army. For the first time ever, watch Batman™: Arkham Knight’s exciting new “Dual Play” feature in action, which will allow players to seamlessly switch between The Dark Knight and his allies including Robin, Nightwing, and Catwoman in FreeFlow Combat.

A familiar face also returns to give The Dark Knight a message he cannot ignore.

Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Interviews

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews


Out of the Blue

It was 20 years ago today that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. And it was 19 years ago today that MrsBlue and I tied the knot. Actually, it feels like our anniversary already happened, since we went out to dinner on Saturday, which was very nice. So there... happy anniversary to us!

Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Double Dragon.
Stickman Dirtbike.
Link: Standard-VS-Premier or “What color was Captain Kirk’s Tunic?” Thanks Devicer.
Science: Scientists trick subjects into feeling invisible.
Stephen Hawking made an appearance at The Sydney Opera House via hologram, and had a great Star Trek exit.
A gentle nudge with a nuke: deflecting Earth-bound asteroids. Armageddon's firecracker analogy debunked.
Media: Long Beach Comic Con 2014 cosplay-silly humans.
Why die on Mars, when you can live in South Dakota-
What's it like when $500k catamaran flips over in a race? NSFW.

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